Mini Melon Harvests Underway in Georgia

Clint ThompsonGeorgia, Watermelon

Photo by Clint Thompson

By Clint Thompson

Watermelon harvests are underway in Georgia. It’s not the big, seedless melons, which are still a few days away. Mini melons were being harvested last week.

Jaime Patrick, Patrick Family Farms in Omega, Georgia, said his mini melons were being harvested, starting on Thursday, June 6.

Photo by Clint Thompson

“We’ll do 15 buses a day, something like that. It isn’t a lot for watermelon guys, but for minis, it’s quite a bit of minis,” Patrick said. “We started pretty hard (last week).”

He added that harvests started later this year, mostly due to weather challenges which started not long after initial plantings has concluded.

Photo by Clint Thompson

“I think last year we started about a week earlier, but the first planting of watermelons that we had went through two hailstorms. We planted it and about 10 days later we had a hailstorm,” Patrick said. “We had to go back through and replant, and then when the watermelons were about the size of a softball, we had another hailstorm. We’re having to cull out and deal with some of those little dings that you have from the hail.

“I’m going to tell you, this has been a tough season as far as weather; two hailstorms and then we’ve had all of this water that we’ve had since the end of April until now; goodness gracious, and it’s not in just watermelons, it’s about in everything we grow. It’s been tough for us this year.”

More Rain, More Disease

Patrick Farms has experienced excessive rainfall since May 1. According to the University of Georgia Automated Weather Network, nearby Tifton, Georgia, received 8.4 inches of rainfall from May 1 to June 6, compared to 3.03 in 2023 and 1.58 in 2022.

It has led to disease buildup in watermelon, a crop susceptible to a plethora of diseases.

“We’re starting to see some disease; gummy stem blight, phytophthora. Of course, phytophthora is in just about everything. We’re seeing it in squash, we’re seeing it in pepper. In any of the low-lying areas, you’ve pretty much got phytophthora,” Patrick said. “What we’re doing is we’re having to skip over those spots to make sure we don’t have any problems.

“I don’t know what the yield reduction is going to be yet, but we’re definitely going to see a yield reduction because of all the rain we’ve had, too.”

Patrick said they typically start harvesting mini melons a week to 10 days before fellow growers start harvesting seedless melons.